While excavations in the 3000-year-old cemetery of Lafurak have still remained incomplete, it seems with inundation of Alborz Dam, this historic site would be the next victim of dam construction in Iran.
Tehran, 12 February 2007 (CHN) -- As the time to inaugurate Alborz Dam in the Iranian northern province of Mazandaran is getting closer, a number of Iranian cultural heritage experts have voiced their concern regarding the possible consequences of dam inauguration to the historic Lafurak cemetery which they believe enfolds enormous invaluable information about the civilization that populated northern Iran during the Iron Age.
While archeological excavations in this historic cemetery have remained incomplete, the Iranian dam authorities have shown much indifference to the importance of this historic site and are preparing the dam to be inaugurated as previously planned.
"First season of archeological excavations in this ancient cemetery revealed that the cemetery dates back to some 3000 years ago. Archeologists also succeeded in identifying three unique burial methods in this cemetery belonging to the Iron Age (1500 to 500 BC). However, excavations in the area were left incomplete by archeologists to be picked up later. For this reason, we have requested Mazandaran Regional Water Organization to give us another chance to open up a new excavation season in the region. However, the Organization has not announced its agreement yet," said Mehdi Abedini, head of excavation team in Lafurak historic cemetery to CHN.
According to this archeologist, Mazandaran's Regional Water Organization was expected to pay for excavations in Lafurak cemetery based on previous agreements reached with the Iranian cultural heritage organization; however, the provincial dam authorities have thus far failed to fulfill this obligation and all the expenses have been paid by Iran's Archeology Research Center.
Abedini also lamented that a great deal of invaluable information about Iron Age in ancient Iran would be lost due to submerging of Lafurak historic cemetery and stressed the necessity to resume excavations behind the dam in the shortest time.
Archeological studies behind Alborz Dam indicate that in addition to Lafurak cemetery, five other ancient cemeteries alongside 9 historic villages and a number of historic mausoleums will be submerged by inundation of the dam.
Located near Savadkooh in the Iranian northern province of Mazandaran, Lafurak is a unique cemetery belonging to the Iron Age. Previous excavation in the area resulted in unearthing graves covered with a layer of special kind of earthenware, containing skeletons with hyperdolichocephalic skulls (long-headed) which were unique in this part of the country. Archeologists have also found gold and silver earrings in this cemetery.
In the recent years large numbers of historic sites have fallen victim to developing projects such as dam construction in Iran. Sivand Dam in Bolaghi Gorge, Fars province can be taken as the most sensational example which has evoked strong objections by cultural heritage enthusiasts both inside and outside Iran. In 2003, the United Nations issued an appeal for world archeologists to rush to Bolaghi Gorge to unearth and record the historical remains before the dam's reservoir is filled.
Karun-3 Dam in Khuzestan province and Mulla Sadra Dam in Fars are among other such unfortunate cases.
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